|School:||Edmondson-Westside HS, Baltimore, MD|
Last month, LionNews.com spoke to Edmondson-Westside HS coach Pete Pompey about his star linebacker Mark Hicks. Now Mark Hicks talks about his recruitment, his favorites, and his recent unofficial visit to Penn State.
"I had over 160 tackles, 3 sacks, 8 touchdowns and probably only around 250 rushing yards because most of them came from goal line situations," stated Mark, whose actual numbers were higher than his coach's estimations.
Pompey also stated that both the Penn State and Maryland have offered. However Hicks said that Terps are very interested but have not yet offered. Others interested include North Carolina State, Syracuse, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Virginia, and Michigan.
Penn State offered Mark recently, sending a written scholarship offer in the mail about two weeks ago. They have been recruiting Mark since the end of his sophomore season. Last weekend, Mark and his brother traveled to State College for a Nittany Lion Junior Day event. Did he enjoy his first visit to Penn State?
"It was just everything a person would dream of if you want to play college football, nice big stadium, nice locker rooms and training facilities, indoor and outdoor, so whether it's raining or snowing you're still going to practice and that's good," admitted Mark. "It was what I expected, but I didn't know the facilities are actually that big. Their indoor facility is like the size of two half football fields. It was nice, very nice."
During the visit Mark had the opportunity to meet all of the assistant coaches, including Jay Paterno and Larry Johnson, who have both been recruiting him. What did the coaching staff speak to Mark about?
"They (Coach Jay Paterno) told me that football can be gone in one play, one second, but a Penn State degree or a degree from anywhere won't go anywhere, that's what's important. He said that as a freshman, you come in, you get a tutor and you go to study hall every day. If they feel as though you may be falling off a little bit, they put you back in study hall so that you can get back to where you should be and maintain those grades."
Mark especially took notice of Penn State's graduation rate for its athletes, stating, "They've got a real strong academic program, they have a high graduation rate for African Americans, they have a high graduation rate for athletes. Actually, they have the number one graduation rate for all their athletes."
Hicks also visited the University of Maryland recently with his coach.
"Maryland invited my coach down to watch E.J. Henderson get tested for the pros and they asked him if he would like to bring any of his players so he brought me and a few others. That was last Thursday," said Mark "I took a look around their practice fields, stadium, their football building. That was nice."
In comparison with Maryland, the Nittany Lions received higher grades according to Mark.
"Penn State might have them as far as the stadium, population, the area. Really, I wouldn't mind staying home, but I'd just rather choose not too. That's why I'm more so looking at the out-of-state schools."
Mark's almost certain to attend Nike Camp at Penn State later this month. He listed his top schools as Michigan, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Penn State, Maryland, and North Carolina State.
Does he have one favorite out of that bunch?
"I don't even know, I'm just weighing my options."
(Interview by Steve Curry)